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Old 05-25-2007, 09:26 AM   #1
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Put together by Fellow Cruiser on S/Y CATHOUSE


Some of us place a small lamp in a glass bottle for the anchor light.

Magnify the brightness by filling the bottle with a transparent oil like



Clean resin from brushes by washing with vinegar.


Get months of comfortable use out of a disposable razor. When not in use

keep the razor in a cup of water. Keep oxygen from that sharp edge.

Vegetable oil works better but you have to keep a lid on it because dead

bugs will collect on the surface.

Instead of shaving cream, usually made by a blade mfr. and suspect to

contain ingredient to promote blade wear, use BABY SHAMPOO. The clear

stuff seems to work better than the yellow.

Once opened, a package of disposable razors will go dull without use.

Put those unused disposable razors in a zip-loc bag with a blast of WD40.

Mystery solved, some folks report blade life no better stored in water.

In every case they were using shore water with chlorine. Rain water, well

water, watermaker water all seem to work just fine.


For many years I have been using old crankcase oil from my diesels mixed

in the usual 50:1 ratio. What's wrong with used oil? Well the reason

you changed it in the diesel is due to acid buildup. This can be a

problem when your engine is imersed in oil but not true in your outboard,

there is no oil sump, oil just passes thru and is not stored in the

engine. It's stored in a plastic fuel tank.

What about that black dirty look to used oil? First, that black is

carbon. Sometimes called graphite, the absolute best of lubricants.

This black has another advantage, it colors your fuel. How many times

have you wondered if you had mixed the fuel or not? Most commercial 2T

oils do not change the fuel color, used oil sure does.

The advantage of 2T oil is that the specific gravity is identical to

gasoline. It will not separate sitting in your garage awaiting the once

a year fishing trip. Separation is not a problem on a rocking sailboat.

The other advantage is less ash to foul plugs. This also need not be a

problem if you use a proper 2 stroke plug. But, sorry to say, no longer

made by plug manufacturers. I have not seen one since the 50's. More

profit in conditioning you to change plugs every few hours and go nowhere

without a spare.

Well friends there is an alternative, NGK makes a surface gap plug that

will not go bad. The one I have now is NGK BUHW. This plug does not

have the impossible to clean cavity under the gap but an exposed ceramic

insulator easily cleaned with a wire brush. Be aware that plugs do not

wear out, only the insulator gets a carbon coating that provides a

resistive path reducing spark voltage. I no longer carry spare plugs

only a tooth size brass brush in my dinghy tool kit.

Measuring that 50:1 fuel/oil ratio. I use a 35mm film can. Three (3)

film cans of oil into one of those 5 liter plastic oil jugs is very close

to 50:1. Put the oil in before the fuel for a good mix. Replace that

lid to keep the film can clean for next use.

I usually have more used crankcase oil than my outboard needs. I dispose

of the access by mixing with my diesel fuel. Have never noted exhaust

smoke. Of course I mix 5 liters into a 200 liter tank.


A wonderfully reliable engine with a few faults easily fixed.

Comes with a stainless sheer pin guaranteed to chew the prop hub and sell

lots of replacement props. I use a piece of 1/8" brazing rod. Of course

they break easily when hitting rocks and fish nets but that's what a

sheer pin is for, to save your prop. Just carry a lot of them in your

dinghy tool kit.

The fuel filter is located inside the fuel tank and removed for cleaning

by loosening the clamp holding the fuel shut off valve. Problem: the

clamp is stainless steel but screw is iron and impossible to remove

without a hacksaw. Replace with a stainless screw even on new engine.

Also on that new engine pull the 4 big stainless screws on the sides of

the engine cover and coat the threads with anti-seize compound. After a

year or so they are impossible to remove from the aluminum block.

Ever try to remove the carburetor drain screw without removing engine

from the transom? Then, after you have the engine up-side-down in your

lap, try getting that screw back in. Solve this by cutting off the lower

section of the plastic case, that covers the lower carburetor, and

there's that screw easily removed with your tool kit pliers, and

reinstalled with your fingers, without lifting from the transom. If you

groove the threaded end of the screw with a small triangular file you

need not fully remove the screw to drain.

Be aware that Yamaha, and others, are sold with the fuel mixture set rich

for break-in. Performance and fuel economy are improved by moving the

mixture 'C' ring up one notch.


When they start slipping simply screw a couple of stainless sheet metal

screws into the rubber on the back side to further compress the rubber.


Problem with short belt life? First it is well worth the additional cost

of a belt with inside notches. This greatly reduces the friction going

around the small alternator pulley.

The following is what I do after a period being a marina queen:

1) Polish inside the pulleys with sandpaper.

2) Lubricate the belt: take a #2 pencil and somewhere in about the

middle cut away the wood lengthwise to expose about an inch

of graphite. Then just hold this exposed graphite against the sides of

the belt with the engine running.


My batteries are automotive size and sited in a box side by side. I

noted that the batteries in the center seemed to have a shorter life and

the center cells of the center batteries required far more water than the

outside cells. Apparently there was just no way for the trapped heat to

dissipate. Solved the problem by placing flat black painted sheet

aluminum between the batteries with about 3" on 2 sides of the sheet

exposed to free air. Now water added is about the same for all cells.


Why pay for bottled water that you think is distilled. In the

Philippines I put ohm meter probes into 'distilled' water and read

conductivity. Distilled water is supposed to be an insulator. Better to

let nature distill your water. I keep a large dishpan purged with rain

water stored in a giant plastic bag. After the beginning of rain has

cleaned the air I put the pan out on deck to collect water. Be sure this

water is direct from the sky and not roof or tarp runoff. I then dip,

with a purged dedicated dipper, into battery water bottles I've saved.

Not recommended down wind from power plant or other belching stacks.

I've been told 'I don't use water, I buy battery solution'. Well folks

this is a water/acid solution for filling a new 'dry charge' battery.

Under charge your battery only loses water, not acid, so continued use of

solution will only increase acid content until the battery is destroyed.


Instead of those noisy, short life 12 volt automotive type fans, use 24

volt truck (lorry to you Brits) fans and operate them on 12 volts. They

are available in an 8 inch size and will move adequate air quietly. Life

expectancy? Don't know, I've had one running all night, every night for

over three years with no indication of bearing wear.

(AFTER 4 YEARS) One of my fans is getting noisy. I took it apart and

found that the front bearing was a bronze sleeve w/o a felt pad (oil

reservoir). Suggest that when you remove the blades to clean you also

add a drop of oil down the shaft into the front bearing.


You won't get this information from your doctor or pharmacist. I found

it in General MacArthur's reports of So. West Pacific operations of WWII.

While treating nerve damaged wounded on Guadelcanal with vitamin B's a

corpsman noted that they were bite free while the patient in the next bed

was covered with bites. This enterprising guy went further to determine

that it was vitamin B1 that the insects hated. An overdose of B1 is

dissipated by sweat and this keeps you bite free. It really works, just

buy B1 as 100mg pills and take one with each meal. Sometimes B1 is

marketed as Thiamin Hydrochloride.

I'm told this will also work on other blood sucking parasites except for

attorneys and ex-wives.

HF RADIO (sometimes called SSB by the uninformed)

Many of you folks faithfully disconnect the antenna from your radio every

time lightning starts flashing. Waste of time, it's that expensive

automatic antenna tuner that gets converted to charcoal. Automatic

antenna tuners are damned expensive and easily zapped by one close

lightning strike. To save your investment simply disconnect the backstay

wire from the tuner terminal and install a link of solder. About 6

inches of that small solder used for electronic work will do. Even a

close strike will blow open the solder link.

Also NEVER use coaxial cable between your antenna tuner and the antenna.

This should be just plain insulated wire. I often get the response,

"what if someone touches the wire?" If it is touched they will only get

an RF burn (not an electric shock) at that instant of a voice peak when

transmitting. A whistle in your mic may cause a pin prick size burn that

you will actually feel. If this is a big concern use automotive spark

plug wire. The kind with real wire in the center, not carbon. Solder

the end of that wire before clamping to the backstay, black copper oxide

is not a conductor.

Another common error is grounding the radio. Not necessary, it's the

antenna tuner that needs the ground, make that a good low impedance

(copper foil) path to the sea.

While on this subject, a painted Dynaplate will not work. Actually there

is no real need to pierce your fiberglass hull to connect direct to the

sea, bilge water is a great radio ground capacitivly coupled to the sea

thru your fiberglass hull.

I commonly find the large coax (RG-8) being used on the HF radio and

small stuff (RG-59) on the VHF. Thinking that the more powerful HF needs

to be big. WRONG, VHF needs the lower high frequency loss of the big

coax while the coax size has little influence on HF performance.

NEVER connect to raw copper without flowing a barrier of solder. When

connecting to copper foil be sure to flow a ring of solder around the

hole. Don't forget the connection to the backstay, tin the end of the

wire before clamping. Copper oxide, when copper turns black, is no

longer a conductor.


Panel degradation is usually due to excessive heat. For long life and

greater output keep those panels as cool as possible. Do not mount flat

on the roof, let air circulate under the panel.

DO NOT use shunt regulation, this only dissipates the power as heat in

the panel reducing life. Solar panels are current generators, not

voltage generators therefore any voltage regulation is a terrible waste

of panel power and money. If you are concerned about overcharge from

solar panels get a contactor type controller. This type of device opens

a contact when battery voltage nears gassing.


Does your electrical powered ref run too often draining your batteries?

I reduced my battery drain by putting a bunch of those small, rectangular

shaped for easy stacking, plastic drinking water bottles full of brine in

the freezer compartment. To start measure the salt you add to a pan of

seawater until a potato floats. Then add that same amount of salt again,

stir until dissolved then fill your bottles. The bottle should not

freeze, a slush is just right. Now you have a poor sailors eutectic ref

system. We also use small plastic medicine bottles with brine in place

of ice cubes. Ice in your freezer continuously absorbs energy, ice will

never be colder that it€™s freezing temperature (zero C). Better than

ice, the super cold brine bottle does not dilute the beer.


When that bottom spring starts to rust and you are constantly banging

your flashlight to stimulate operation. Easy to fix, just shove some

aluminum foil down the tube so it makes contact between the bottom of the

bottom cell and the brass strip coming up the side. Even aluminum foil

will eventually oxidize so replace it when you drop in new batteries.


Don't throw that cordless drill away when charger and battery dies. They

work even better on 12 volts. Direct wire to the internal battery

contacts or, what I did, make a wooden fake battery with contacts just

like the real thing. This way I retained the cordless feature if I ever

get rich enough to afford another battery.


Are you bothered with that green/white gunge that collects around battery

terminals. This is the stuff that causes poor contact to the post. This

is caused by gas leaking out of the seal at the post. Not the greatest

seal after you've wrenched, twisted, and hammered on it to install the

connecting clamp. Solve this problem by putting a tight fitting piece

of plastic under the connector that is big enough to divert venting gas

away from the terminal. Those red and green things that come with your

battery are just not big enough to protect the connector. Many plastic

lids will do, like the lid from a Pringles potato chip can, then punch a

neat 1/2" hole on center and slip over the terminal under the connector.


That white stuff with the red/blue trace does looks nautical enough to be

called a line. BUT, the truth is, it will rot after only a year under a

tropical sun. Whereas the dark green and black rope commonly found on

fishing boats still looks good after 5 years.


No fun watching that expensive paint blowing in the wind as you try for

that sprayed gloss finish. Urethanes can be brushed without tell-tale

brush streaks by simply floating a layer of urethane reducer on top of

the paint (don't stir) and dip the brush through the reducer layer into

the paint. The result will pass most inspections except for the club

know-it-all with the blue blazer, yachting cap, and magnifying glass.


Ever try to get one apart to clean a fouled suction valve? After a few

years the stainless screws will break before unscrewing from the cast

aluminum pump body. Before installing that new pump (because you broke

the screws in the old one), remove each screw and coat with an anti-seize



The thick stuff, not laminating epoxies, can be molded like your kids

modeling clay by simply wetting your fingers in water.


Use a 2 part urethane primer on clean metals then anti-fouling paint will

stay. Cathouse just came out of the water after motoring 3000mi and

anti-fouling was still on the prop.


The tried and true detergent bubble method is fine for the big leaks, but

what about the slow leaks in your refrigeration or LPG system? Your

detergent/water solution dries long before a bubble forms. Ever wonder

how that soap bubble fluid your kids buy in the toy store can last so

long? The secret ingredient is a little glycerin from the drug store

(chemist to you Brits). This puts a film over the bubble to protect it

from drying. I keep the solution in an old Windex spray bottle. You can

actually see bubbles forming hours after spraying.


These are those things that make AC power from your 12V batteries without

starting a noisy gen-set.

Electronic inverters are not all the same, there are two basic types on

the market.

SQUARE WAVE INVERTERS are by far the cheapest, most rugged, efficient,

and repairable. On the down side, this type is not well voltage

regulated nor is it's operating frequency very stable but many modern AC

powered devices just don't care. For example: power tools, sewing

machines with brush motors (not the processor controlled types),

computers, TVs and other multi-volt electronic equipment will operate

very well. Square wave inverters Will NOT work with induction or

capacitor start motors like a household fans and refrigerators (motors

with brushes, like your power tools, are ok). Also on the down side this

type generates HF radio noise, has higher idle (no load) current and is

not load sensing to automatically turn on, you must manually switch to

power up AC when you need it.

The MODIFIED SINE WAVE type inverter is a sophisticated, expensive, and

irreparable (the mfrs. will not provide a schematic and active components

have the identification erased) piece of equipment that is easily zapped

by near-miss lightning. The advantages of most of this type is that it

will sense you plugging-in or turning on your appliance to power itself

up and provide accurate regulated frequency and voltage.

Combined INVERTER/CHARGERS for marina queens, a lot of money for that

charger function and they radiate HF radio noise that screws up your

radio and everybody else's on your dock.

I started boat life with two expensive Heart inverters, 120V and 240V so

my power intensive American life style would not suffer living on a boat.

After 5 years we no longer use the 120V inverter and the 240V inverter

powers only the microwave, blender, and power tools. All of our other

appliances are now efficient direct 12V operating. The last to go were

the 19" TV, the computer monitor, and the amplified speakers. All

replaced with a Samsung 15" LCD video/TV/PC monitor, does it all for only

2.2amps at 12V and a picture quality that must be seen to believe. The

LCD in your laptop fades only a few degrees off axis, this thing is still

viewable 80 degrees off axis.

You won't find square wave inverters at West Marine. Try looking for USA

made TRIPP LITE on the net. Or, if you're in Thailand, SPECTRUM has a

line of VERY affordable square wave inverters.


When you buy a replacement alternator be sure to check those fins on the

shaft behind the pulley. The alternator can operate either direction but

many fans are designed for one direction only. If the fins are exactly

perpendicular to the shaft as on Hitachi's you can operate either

direction but if the fins are at an angle the fan is unidirectional.

Just be aware that the fan is a centrifugal blower that draws air from

the rear of the alternator and throws it out the front. So when buying a

new alternator, look at the fan to make sure it will work with your

engine rotation.

I agree that internal regulation is not going to work well in the

stagnant air of a yacht engine room. Also be aware that internal

regulation regulates the voltage at the alternator, not at your battery.

No problem in a car where the battery is only a couple of feet away but

this usually is not the case in your boat where your battery box may not

be located next to your engine. You may even have a battery isolator in

line that will further drop the charge voltage by 0.7V. Manual control

using a rheostat is not a fix I'd recommend unless you carefully monitor

during charge with a calibrated digital voltmeter wired directly to the

battery terminals. Using an analog voltmeter is just not going to tell

you the information you need.

The external digital (switching) regulator, that senses voltage at the

battery, is the way to go. This type will provide full alternator

current right up to the regulating voltage, then hold that voltage.

Two main things will cause the failure of alternator diodes, over

temperature and overvoltage. Overvoltage will occur when a connection

from alternator to battery fails and the unloaded alternator output

voltage goes above the PIV rating of the diodes. Overtemp can happen

with restricted airflow, wrong direction fan, or fast charging beyond

rating. Reliability will halve for every 10deg rise above 85deg C.

Problem is that diodes fail short so there goes your batteries,

alternator, and wiring in smoke and warped plates.

FAIL-SAFE FIX is to fuse the alternator output with a fusible link

consisting of an inch or so of solid copper wire. Here's a few wire

sizes and the fusing current (sorry my table only gives the wire size as

AWG not MM): #20=58amps, #18=83amps, #16=117amps, #14=166amps,


To stir the air a bit in Cathouse engine room, I bolted a plastic auto

fan to the engine water pump just like in your car. Easily available

hanging on wall of auto supply store.


Reading all the claims by charger manufacturers will leave you very

confused and you will probably end up buying the wrong thing. First what

do you want your charger to do? Charge or float your batteries while in

a marina? Floating means to support your loads while maintaining a

charge without loss of water. Whereas charging is a job best performed

by your diesel.

What should be the current rating of the charger? Add up your 24hr

average loads, let the battery smooth out the peaks and dips, and buy a

charger that claims to do at least twice that. I've repaired many

chargers that have operated at advertised current. Most were turned off

when the DC terminals or fuse holder melts. If you could read the fine

print it probably reads "based on operation above 50 deg of latitude in a

shaded 25 knot breeze".

When you shop for a charger take some kind of continuity tester with you.

An ohm meter, if you have one, or battery and buzzer or light. Check

for continuity between the AC plug and both DC terminals. Be sure to

reverse your test leads, the diode may block one test polarity. If

continuity is indicated, that's a reject because in a marina you are

asking for a galvanic nightmare. You want complete isolation from shore


If you plan to operate from your gen-set there is something else you must

check. Are the rectifiers full wave or half wave? If half wave your

gen-set charging will be a disappointment, it won't charge the same as

when you are plugged in to shore power. The rectifiers must be full

wave. How do you tell if it's full wave? Not easy, you will have to

take a screw driver with you to the store and open the case. Half wave

will have only one diode and if a big charger maybe two connected a

common transformer lead. Full wave will have two or more diodes

connected to separate transformer leads.


After a few years have you noted your crimp lugs and screw connectors

getting hot enough to melt the plastic insulation? This happens because

the wire strands oxidize in our corrosive environment and no longer

conduct to the adjacent strand. As time goes on the oxidation penetrates

further up the cable until all the power is being carried by only a few


On a new cable solder after crimping. If a screw connector, solder the

wire end before clamping.

On your old melted cable cut back as far as possible. Then fray the end

and sand the black oxidation back to a copper color then twist back to

proper wire size and solder.


For the last 13 years here in tropical South East Asia I've been embarrassed

by body odor, trying never to expose my left side to others. Seems it's

virtually impossible to find LEFT GUARD in this part of the world. Well

folks I'm embarrassed no longer, I've found that RIGHT GUARD will

actually work under the left arm


Bob Brookes

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Old 05-25-2007, 09:41 AM   #2
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Please pass on our thanks for sharing this.


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Old 05-25-2007, 09:43 AM   #3
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Old 05-25-2007, 10:09 AM   #4
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Very informative. I have just learned heaps! Thanks.

"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 02-20-2008, 07:25 PM   #5
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that was fantastic - how do you remember all that. Am new to this boat owning idea - so a lot of that is needed but not understood.


sailing is one long learning curve
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Old 02-20-2008, 07:44 PM   #6
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Not so sure about the belt and graphite application with running engine. I have friends that have lost fingers in moving belts....not pretty.

However, I find this very interesting: "If you plan to operate from your gen-set there is something else you must

check. Are the rectifiers full wave or half wave? If half wave your

gen-set charging will be a disappointment, it won't charge the same as

when you are plugged in to shore power. The rectifiers must be full

wave. How do you tell if it's full wave? Not easy, you will have to

take a screw driver with you to the store and open the case. Half wave

will have only one diode and if a big charger maybe two connected a

common transformer lead. Full wave will have two or more diodes

connected to separate transformer leads."

I will need to check this one out for sure.
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Old 03-01-2008, 05:04 AM   #7
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Excellent post! Some great content.

One query though, in your refrigeration section, you say ice can never be at a temperature below 0 degrees C. I am not sure that is correct as I believe once the container of water has frozen completely, that it will slowly reach the temperature of the container it is in i.e. if the freezer is at -5 degrees it should attain that level. If that is the case, what is the advantage of the brine system?

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Old 03-01-2008, 12:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SV Gwendolyn View Post
Excellent post! Some great content.

One query though, in your refrigeration section, you say ice can never be at a temperature below 0 degrees C. I am not sure that is correct as I believe once the container of water has frozen completely, that it will slowly reach the temperature of the container it is in i.e. if the freezer is at -5 degrees it should attain that level. If that is the case, what is the advantage of the brine system?

The real answer is that water can never be at a temperature below 0 degrees C. I'm sure that's what he meant to say (or should have said).

The advantage of the brine system is that it takes a lot of thermal energy to convert water at 0 degrees C to ice at 0 degrees C, and during that process the temperature remains constant. That thermal energy would be better put to use reducing the brine at 0 degrees C to brine at -5 degrees C (which is where brine begins to freeze). Brine doesn't remain at a constant temperature while freezing, like fresh water does (in fact no compound mixtures remain at a constant temperature while freezing or melting, but all pure substances do, hence vodka slushies). So the thermal energy around the brine is slowly absorbed by the brine as its temperature rises past -5 C up to its final melting point.
= New South Wales, Queensland,
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Old 03-02-2008, 11:59 PM   #9
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Thanks a lot, Bob, for all these informations.

I am a bit confused though by the solar panel bit about voltage regulation being unnecessary. Not sure I understand. Could anyone help me? Francois
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:59 PM   #10
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I will take your advice on the right guard. My left arm was a wee bit stinky too......THANKS....LOLOLOLOL
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:09 PM   #11
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Thanks, The baby shampoo works great for shaving.

Cruising Bahamas
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